Community Members

Disaster Management

Information for North Coast communities

Healthy North Coast is committed to supporting community members prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters and other emergencies.

Being prepared helps to ensure that when disasters happen, you and your family are ready to respond effectively.

Health and emotional support services for people impacted by disasters and other emergencies.

Mental health and wellbeing support for those recovering from the impacts of natural disasters and other emergencies.

Readiness

Our region experiences a range of natural disasters including floods, bushfires, and drought. Being prepared for an emergency can save lives and support you and your family’s health and wellbeing during and after disasters.  

Being connected to your community and knowing your neighbours helps to enhance resilience to disasters. Take time to get involved in your community and share a cuppa with your neighbours. 

If you want to be prepared for a future disaster, have experienced a disaster or are recovering from a disaster, visit the Australian Red Cross for useful emergency management information and resources.

Response

Healthy North Coast offers a range of services to support communities during a disaster or emergency situation.

Healthy North Coast GP Telehealth

Healthy North Coast GP Telehealth is available to North Coast residents who can’t get an appointment with their regular GP due to the effects of a disaster. Free telehealth appointments with a GP can be booked any time of the day or night, 7 days a week. 

General practice and pharmacy

General practices, Aboriginal medical services, pharmacies and allied health providers can be impacted by disasters. Please contact your health provider before attending to ensure they are open. You can use the healthdirect Service Finderto locate a health service near you.

Mental health support

Disasters can affect everyone in the community, not only people directly dealing with loss of property or possessions. The mental health and wellbeing of affected individuals can be significantly impacted during, and in the months and years after, a disaster. It is important to look after yourself, family, neighbours and friends and if required access mental health counselling. 

Self-care 

  • Recognise what you’re going through is distressing. 
  • Don’t get angry with yourself for being upset. 
  • Remember there is no right or wrong way to feel. 
  • Don’t suppress your feelings — share them with people you trust when you are ready to do so. 
  • Rest if you’re tired but remember that physical exercise is also important. 
  • Let friends and family know of your needs — when you feel tired, need time out, want to talk or be with someone. 

Immediate 24/7 help 

  • Recognise what you’re going through is distressing. 
  • Don’t get angry with yourself for being upset. 
  • Remember there is no right or wrong way to feel. 
  • Don’t suppress your feelings — share them with people you trust when you are ready to do so. 
  • Rest if you’re tired but remember that physical exercise is also important. 
  • Let friends and family know of your needs — when you feel tired, need time out, want to talk or be with someone. 

Connect to Wellbeing 

Connect to Wellbeing connects you to the right mental health support and information. Connect to Wellbeing offers free face-to-face or telephone counselling with qualified mental health professionals. Call 1300 160 339 Monday to Friday 8:30 am – 5 pm.   

Download a flyer about mental health that was developed for the floods, which includes all the mental health information. 

Recovery

The impact of disasters may be felt by individuals, families and communities for months and years after an event.

Mental health

Recovery is often described as a journey of personal discovery which includes new learning on how to live well. Mental health recovery is a unique experience to each person and is possible for everyone. Mind has useful information to assist you in understanding and exploring your own recovery journey.  

Connect to Wellbeing 

Connect to Wellbeing connects you to the right mental health support and information. Connect to Wellbeing offers free face-to-face or telephone counselling with qualified mental health professionals. Call 1300 160 339 Monday to Friday 8:30 am – 5 pm. 

Download a flyer about mental health that was developed for the floods, which includes all the mental health information. 

Medicare Better Access  

Talk to your GP or contact a Medicare-registered mental health professional, such as a psychologist or mental health social worker, to access up to 20 counselling sessions each calendar year.  

Services are available for anyone whose mental health has been affected by bushfires, floods or other disasters. It is not limited to people living in directly impacted areas. People can self-refer to a mental health professional and a mental health treatment plan is not required. Fees may apply.  

Local Health Districts bushfire recovery support 

Contact your Local Health District to talk to a bushfire recovery health clinician for advice, support and coordination of your mental health needs arising from the bushfires. Services are free. 

Northern NSW Local Health District: 
02 6620 2100 

Mid North Coast Local Health District: 
Coffs Harbour 0412 582 986 
Nambucca Valley 0477 365 642 
Hastings/Macleay 0417 080 431 

Community-led initiatives

Healthy North Coast supports communities to heal from disasters and build resilience through a range of community-led initiatives. 

Bushfire recovery community grants 

The Bushfire Recovery Community Grants Program supports the mental health and emotional wellbeing of Australians affected by the 2019–2020 bushfires. It is an Australian Government funded initiative that aims to build social cohesion, connection and resilience through community-led recovery activities. In 2021, Healthy North Coast is supporting 43 grassroots recovery initiatives across the region.  

Community participation and wellbeing 

Healthy North Coast is working with local bushfire and flood-affected communities to co-design community-based activities that support mental health and wellbeing during the 2021–22 financial year. Healthy North Coast will partner with trusted community organisations, evaluate outcomes and share learnings across the region. 

Collective impact for community resilience

Healthy North Coast is developing a place-based collective impact initiative to strengthen disaster preparedness and resilience in North Coast communities over the mid to long termWe aim to create a new way of working based on best-practice evidence to build on the recovery process and transcend the short-term repair agenda. The approach will be evaluated to develop a model that can be replicated elsewhere.

Resources

Information and resources to help you cope after a disaster

Preparing for and recovering from floods

Community Trauma Toolkit

Maintaining health during and after floods and storms

Recovery information for communities 

Find the right Australian digital mental health and wellbeing resources

Information and resources to help you cope after a bushfire

Practical and emotional support for people in bushfire affected areas

Resources including online forum for anonymous peer-based support

What you or others might experience after a crisis, and how to manage it

Mental health resources for people affected by bushfires

Support for young people aged 12 to 25 years

Mental health support for people who are culturally and linguistically diverse 

Helpful advice & practical strategies to support small children

Support for first responder families to proactively look after their wellbeing

Understanding recovery and looking after yourself